Monday, January 21, 2019

Here He Is, Sending Out Messages (REDC)

I still remember the sound of that America Online modem screeching, followed by the "You've Got Mail!" announcement when I was 12.  The internet and email had come into my life. 

These were pretty formative years: discussion boards, websites, chat rooms.  But looking back, the biggest impact of that service was email.  I could communicate quickly with anyone.  No more waiting weeks for a pen pal to write back.  Yeah, this email thing would catch on, I was sure of it.


In the days before email, the predominant form of communication between Sherlockians (so I'm told) was letter writing.  In fact, one of my favorite Sherlockian books is "'Dear Starrett-' 'Dear Briggs-'" a collection of correspondence between two influential members of our hobby.  Reading that book is like getting to sit at a table and listen to two men who know their stuff and are curious about the other's opinion have a legendary conversation.  


Now, in no way do I consider myself to be anywhere near these men's caliber.  But last week, I found myself enjoying the modern day equivalent of the back and forth between those two men.  I got to enjoy the sheer pleasure of two different ongoing, rambling email conversations with some of my favorite Sherlockians, Brad Keefauver and Bill Mason.  

I would assume most of us have our Sherlockian emails that get fired back and forth, but the majority of them are specific to topics and once the topic is completed, the discussion ends.  Lord knows I have plenty of those in my inbox as well.  "Are you coming to the meeting?"  "What is the status of this project?"  "Do you know where I can find ___?"  Those are all well and good, but how often do we get to have conversations that meander from topic to topic?

Bill and I started out conversing about his weekend in New York, which led to travel plans, blog posts, politics, events in Nashville and St. Louis, and other things.  If you know Bill, you know what a gracious and friendly guy he is, and his emails are just as pleasant.  Plus, I hear his great southern accent whenever I read his stuff.  I'm really looking forward to reading his new book, "A Holmes by Any Other Name," and hearing his voice in my head.  (Oooh, what if he recorded it as an audio book?!?!?)


Keefauver was one of the first Sherlockian friends I made when I ventured outside of my bookshelf and started engaging with other people on the internet and at functions.  Although he and I only live two hours apart, we don't see each other as often as I'd like.  I assume that's because I'm taking my daughter to ballet class and he's watching Holmes and Watson.... again.  And again.  And again.  If you know either of us, we ramble, so I can't even begin to list the topics we went over.  


Now, would either of these interactions have happened without email?  I can't say because I wasn't doing too much letter writing in my pre-teen days and don't today.  I can tell you that even if they would had, they would've taken a different approach.  Firing off a one or two sentence email is nothing to us, but writing down so few lines, slipping it an envelope, and using postage for it?  Doubtful.

So, another goal I'm going to set for myself is to let my friendly email correspondence be more of a conversation instead of a Q&A session.  Although time and distance don't always allow us to converse as much with Sherlockians around the country and world that we would like to, we have the means right here at our fingertips.  Long rambling messages, short queries, whatever.  

Just as long as they don't look like this: 


Sunday, January 13, 2019

Interesting Interview: Curtis Armstrong

If you only know Curtis Armstrong as the guy from Revenge of the Nerds or Moonlighting, you are missing out on so much more!  Curtis is an ardent Sherlockian from an early age and his devotion to this hobby of ours is still going strong decades later.  In 2017, his memoir "Revenge of the Nerd: Or... The Singular Adventures of the Man Who Would Be Booger" came out, and to many Sherlockians' delight contained all kinds of great tidbits about his interest in the Great Detective.  (Sure, there were stories about Tom Cruise, Bruce Willis, and John Cusack, but the selling point is Sherlock Holmes, right?)  Invested into The Baker Street Irregulars in 2006 as "An Actor and a Rare One," Curtis' wears his love for Sherlock Holmes and other Sherlockians on his sleeve.  I think you are in for a real treat with this month's answers...



How did you become a Sherlockian?
In a manner of speaking, I became a Sherlockian the moment my father put his copy of the stories in my hands. That was 1964 or 1965. But my path to the "organized" Sherlockian world began a few years later. In 1969, my Civics teacher, Barry Lepler, commented on the fact that I was carrying a copy of the Sherlock Holmes stories with me every day in school. My obsession was obvious and he asked if I'd ever heard of William Baring Gould's Annotated Sherlock Holmes. He had gotten a copy for joining the Book of the Month Club a year before. Would I be interested?

I had no idea what I was letting myself in for, but said yes. He then said the book could be mine for $5.00, which was what he paid for his subscription!  That seemed reasonable. I brought in my $5.00 and he handed me what was, in many ways, the key to my future.

It was through Baring Gould that I discovered the existence of The Baker Street Irregulars and The Baker Street Journal. I would never have dreamed that such things existed!  Obviously, my first move would be to join The Baker Street Irregulars.  But even a cursory reading of the history of the organization showed that was unlikely, even if the group still existed, and I wasn't sure it did.  The Baker Street Journal was another matter, though. I subscribed immediately, and it was in the first or second issue that I saw the announcement, in the Scion Society section, that a new Sherlock Holmes society had been founded specifically for young Sherlockians--and that it was based in Cranbrook Gardens, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, which was about twenty minutes drive from my house.


The founder of this group was Susan Rice, now legendary in the Sherlockian world, but then a young teacher at the Kingsford School in Bloomfield Hills. The group was co-ed, unlike the Irregulars at that time, and consisted mainly of her students.  We would meet at her apartment: discuss the stories, attend plays, have dinners occasionally, including one at my home at which we were honored by the presence of  the Detroit Amateur Mendicant Society founder Bob Harris, who arrived with a Tantalus and Gasogene (which we were encouraged to sample) and who sat telling stories about the old days with famed Irregulars like "Kit."  Even Susan, far more educated in this lore than we, didn't realize at first he was talking about Christopher Morley.  Jupiter descended that night!

Though I dabbled in scion groups in the following decades (The Greek Interpreters of East Lansing and The Non-Canonical Calabashes of Los Angeles) my youthful fantasy of induction in The Baker Street Irregulars seemed as far away as ever.  Until I received an unexpected invitation to attend the weekend from Susan in 2002.  My induction a few years later was the most unexpected and thrilling moments of my life.


What is your favorite canonical story?
"Favorite Canonical story?"  Unanswerable.  This answer changes regularly.  I'll say "Silver Blaze".  No, wait. "Bruce Partington Plans." No, hang on....

Who is a specific Sherlockian that you think others would find interesting?
 If we are speaking of a Sherlockian not yet inducted, I would say Ashley Polasek. A scholar, writer, editor, teacher and Medieval swordswoman. She has a PhD in Sherlock Holmes adaptions and has spoken on Sherlockian subjects internationally. She was the editor of my second book, on P.G. Wodehouse, called "A Plum Assignment," co-written by Elliott Milstein. Also co-editor of the Los Angeles symposium book, Sherlock Holmes: Behind The Canoncial Screen. She's also funny and knows her single malts.  What more can you ask for?


What subset of Sherlockiana really interests you?
I'm not that interested in films or plays, or cosplay. That feels too much like what I do for a living. I'm a hardcore bibliophile, so it used to be collecting. I have a large collection of Sherlockiana including first editions, Strand magazines, Doyle letters and an extensive collection of books, letters and inscribed copies of books by first generation Irregulars.  That hobby got a little rich for my blood, though. I still collect the new books by BSI Press and Wessex Press and independently published work, but the the earlier stuff has just gotten too expensive. I consider my collection basically frozen. Now I collect Washington Irving. I love him as much as Doyle and he's more reasonably priced! 

What things do you like to research related to Sherlock Holmes?
I don't really research anything!  I don't write that often on the subject.  I like to think of myself more as an enthusiast. I am lost in admiration for the people I know for whom research is an important part of their Sherlockian experience, but it's just not really in my wheel house. I've been invited to give talks on Holmes often but it is always related in some way to what I do:  Holmes and theatre, actors, film, that sort of thing.  Sometimes when I'm preparing a talk there is some research involved but it's really not what I enjoy. I just like to read the stories and talk about them, when I do, from my own perspective.  I wish I were a scholar, but I'm not.


Is there a Sherlockian role that you would really enjoy playing on stage or screen?
I've been asked this question a lot.  Honestly, no. I don't see myself in any Canonical character.  Maybe Nathan Garrideb. Years ago, the actor/director Heather MacDonald wrote a Sherlock Holmes play and arranged a backers reading of it in New York. She asked me to play Billy the page. I was 28. I played him like Terry Kilburn in "The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes."  My one Sherlock Holmes credit.



Although not Sherlockian, last year, you released the book "A Plum Assignment: Discourses on P. G. Wodehouse and His World" with Elliot Milstein.  Why do you think there is such a crossover between fans of Wodehouse and fans of The Great Detective?
A good question.  I don't know.  I think it may be because Wodehouse was such a fan of Doyle's that he sort of bubbled over with enthusiasm for him and that sort of thing is infectious. It was there in everything, from throwaways like referring to three-pipe problems, or quoting lines from the stories that are recognizable.  Comparing aunts to Professor Moriarty, that sort of thing. Inside things that readers like.  The plot of "Indiscretions of Archie" borrows pretty substantially from "The Adventure of the Speckled Band."  Also, there is a cult quality to Wodehouse readers that is very similar to Doyle readers.


What book would you recommend to other Sherlockians?
I assume you mean a Sherlockian-related book.  I'd recommend something by Vincent Starrett or Chris Morley.  Not "The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes" or "Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson: A Textbook of Friendship", but one of their Sherlock-adjacent, less well-known books.  Starrett's "Penny Wise and Book Foolish" or Morley's "Powder of Sympathy." If you can find them.

Where do you see Sherlockiana in 5 or 10 years from now?
Who could've predicted ten years ago where Sherlockiana is today?  Fortunately, Sherlockiana is no longer the domain of all-white-male bookishness.  I relish the changes and have been disappointed and kind of appalled at the reactions of some Sherlockians of my generation to what the Irregulars in particular has become.  Women, POC and the young are the future of societies like ours and we should embrace them.  They are no threat to us, they're like o-negative blood transfusions, universal and life-giving. If we've learned nothing else from Tom Stix's day, we've learned that Sherlockian whiskey-and-sodality has no gender. The future of Sherlockiana looks bright to me.


Sunday, January 6, 2019

With a Brisk Air of Resolution (CROO)

As we pause a moment to celebrate Sherlock Holmes' 165th birthday today, I find myself looking forward to 2019.  Last year, I created an extensive list of Sherlockian resolutions, which fell all over the map in if I had accomplished them or not.  This year, I still want to set some Sherlockian goals for myself, but think I'll be a little more pragmatic this time around.


1. Read 20 canonical stories
I am amazed by people who can read the whole Canon in a year.  I shot for 52 stories in 2018 (one per week) and it turned into a chore.  I never want my Sherlockian reading to feel like a chore, so 20 seems like an attainable number this year.

2. Submit an article to the Baker Street Journal
This is a repeat goal from last year.  When I recapped my progress on 2018 goals, I didn't think it was going to happen.  And then I got some guts and cranked out a piece of writing I'm pretty proud of.  I submitted to the BSJ and it was turned down, but the rejection wasn't as terrifying as I thought it would be.  I'll be back with at least one more submission this year I hope.


3. Finish my current Sherlockian book manuscript
I'm working on a kids book to make Sherlock Holmes more accessible to kids aged 9-12 years old.  I haven't been good about having a writing routine with this project as I was with The Criminal Mastermind of Baker Street.  It's time for me to buckle down, complete a first draft, edit, and get a manuscript ready to shop around by the end of the year.

4. Encourage new leadership in The Parallel Case of St. Louis
For the past few years, I've been lucky enough to lead this great group of people and I don't plan on quitting any time soon.  But we have such a diverse and interesting group of Sherlockians that meet every other month, it shouldn't be just me calling the shots.  What does that mean?  I don't know.  But I'm excited to see who wants to take on a larger role and what they come up with.


5. Encourage St. Louis Sherlockian social interactions
I also really love the few purely social Sherlockian events we've had in St. Louis here and there.  I'd like to see my scion make a conscious effort to get together and just enjoy each other's company.

6. Holmes in the Heartland 2020
Speaking of The Parallel Case of St. Louis, we are laying the groundwork for our next Holmes in the Heartland conference, tentatively scheduled for the summer of 2020.  By the end of 2019, I would like most of plans to be in place so we can go above and beyond what we accomplished in 2018.


7.Add to the St. Louis Sherlockian Research Collection
A few of us in St. Louis are overseeing the acquisition of new materials for this research collection, and I'm hoping things will be in place for us to start wheeling and dealing in the next month or two to add to this great resource.

8. Get visitors to the collection
I don't want this to be just a bunch of books that sit and collect dust.  How we go about this, I don't know just yet.  But if we have everything planned out ahead of time, life would be boring.

9. Use the collection for my own research
Maybe for my planned BSJ submission....?


10. Keep blogging!
This blog was originally started as a way to promote The Criminal Mastermind of Baker Street over a year ago.  Since then, it's become an outlet for my Sherlockian musings which I enjoy doing overall.  But let's be honest, some weeks I just don't want to write.  Or come up with a topic.  Once I get myself up off of the couch and behind the keyboard, it's worth it.  I don't want lethargy to overtake me with this.  I have hopes for 12 top notch Interesting Interviews throughout the year, and think maybe writing more about the actual canonical stories this year would be a good focus for my time.

Well, my list is actually longer than last year, but I think everything is attainable.  Here's to another year of Sherlockiana!


Sunday, December 30, 2018

A Long Series of Such Titles Pt. 3

Here we are, at the end of the year.  And here I am at the end of my reading list for the year.  Part 1 and Part 2 can be found in the attached links.  Let's finish this year up with some books!

The Enola Holmes Series: The Case of the Missing Marquess, The Case of the Left-Handed Lady, The Case of the Bizarre Bouquets, The Case of the Peculiar Pink Fan, The Case of the Cryptic Crinoline & The Case of the Gypsy Goodbye – Nancy Springer
Wow, I didn't realize that I'd read this entire series this year.  These are such fun books that I find myself recommending them to anyone who will listen!  Plenty of my fifth graders have fallen in love with this series as well this year.  And I'm hoping that the upcoming film is true to the books.

I am not overly interested in Arthur Conan Doyle's life, but this year I made it a point to read a little bit more about the man who made Sherlockiana possible. 

Memories and Adventures – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
This is a cornerstone text of a Sherlockian library, so I felt it important to make it through this book.  If I hadn't done it on audio, I'm not sure I could have done it.  For me, this book is like high school geometry: I'm glad I did it, but I wouldn't choose to do it again.

On Conan Doyle: Or the Whole Art of Storytelling – Michael Dirda
This book was a whole other thing.  Dirda's biography was brisk and spent much more time focused on Sherlock Holmes and his role in Doyle's life.  If I am going to recommend a Doyle biography to someone, Dirda's book is definitely my choice.

Speaking of Michael Dirda, he heads up this next small section: books that aren't Sherlockian, but have enough Sherlockian content to consider.

Browsings: A Year of Reading, Collecting and Living with Books – Michael Dirda
Noted bookman, Michael Dirda has collected numerous articles on his life in the book world.  A member of the Baker Street Irregulars, and author of what one blogger has called his choice for Arthur Conan Doyle biographies, you can expect some great Sherlockian content in these pages.  And if you're reading this blog, chances are you're interested in books, so the rest of the book should be right up your alley, too.

Revenge of the Nerd: The Singular Adventures of the Man Who Would be Booger – Curtis Armstrong
Yeah, a book with the word "Booger" in its title.  If you only know Curtis Armstrong as the gross guy from the Revenge of the Nerds movies, there's a lot more in this book for you to discover.  He's obviously a Sherlockian, joining his first scion when he was still in elementary school, and he has some great stories and thoughts on Sherlockians and our hobby scattered throughout.  I recommend doing this on audio, as it is narrated by Armstrong.  It's almost like hanging out and getting to hear some great Hollywood stories straight from the Booger's mouth.

Baker Street Reveries: Sherlockian Writings 2006-2016 – Leslie Klinger
I love everything Leslie Klinger puts out.  I've only read his Sherlockian stuff so far, but I got his new collection of 1920's crime fiction for Christmas just because his writing and editing projects are so well done.  So often, Klinger is obscured by his topic of study (Dracula, H.P. Lovecraft, authors taking on other seminal creations, etc.), but in this collection of essays, it's just the man and his thoughts on Sherlock Holmes.  A great book.

Sherlock Holmes for Dummies – Steve Doyle & David Crowder
Remember the For Dummies series that seemed to be everywhere a decade or so ago?  Those books were wildly popular for a reason.  Their quick and easy format is a fun way to learn (or relearn) some of the important points about Sherlock Holmes, Arthur Conan Doyle, and Victorian London.

East Wind Coming: A Sherlock Holmes Study Book – Yuichi Hirayama & John Hall
This book really reminded me of "Dear Starrett, Dear Briggs."  Two Sherlockians question and discuss important points of Sherlockian lore and scholarship.  It was nice to hear what Sherlockians in another part of the world have to say about this interest that we all share.

Sherlock Holmes by Gas Lamp: Highlights from the First Four Decades of the Baker Street Journal – Philip Shreffler
I've talked in other posts about how much I enjoy reading the early scholarship of Sherlockiana.  And this book delivers in spades.  Some of the most important writings of our hobby are collected in this book, and even though I've heard a lot of it referenced and discussed before I read this book, I was nice to have the actual source material in front of me.  Definitely an important book to have.

Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson: A Textbook of Friendship – Christopher Morley
This is a strange book.  Christopher Morley is great, and I love a lot of stuff he's done, but this book was essentially some canonical stories reprinted with only a handful of original material added.  The discussion questions were interesting, but as someone who makes discussion questions for a living, I was a little more critical of this book than the average reader probably would be.

Sherlock Holmes: The Reification of Hans Gerber – George Mann
This is an audio production put out by Big Finish with a full cast.  If you enjoy radio dramas or scripted podcasts, this is right up your alley.  Big Finish has a line of Sherlock Holmes audio dramas, and I found this one to be a fun time.  I will be dipping back into their catalog soon.

Sherlock Holmes is Like: Sixty Comparisons for an Incomparable Character – Christopher Redmond
Disclaimer: I have an essay in this book, but don't let that turn you off.  As a contributor, I got to see the table of contents before it was available to the public, and Chris Redmond has another great collection on his hands here.  From Robin Hood to Lucy from the Peanuts comics, there are so many great comparisons here, you never know what you're going to get next.

Holmes and Watson – June Thompson
This was a book that had been on my TBR list for a long time and I'm glad I finally got to it.  We've all read Sherlockian research that reads like a dusty old textbook, but that is not the case here.  Thompson's background in fiction lends itself well here and her narrative style makes the analysis flow.

Well, that's it for 2018, unless I somehow squeeze one more book in before midnight.  Up next on my Sherlockian reading will be Bill Mason's new book: A Holmes by Any Other Name.  And I might read one or two other Sherlockian books next year as well.

Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 23, 2018

A Long Series of Such Titles Pt. 2

Last week, I started quick write-ups of all of the Sherlockian reading I did in 2018.  Here is part two of my list.  Last week's list included some of the great journals out there as well as some other titles of interest.  This week, I want to highlight some graphic novels, books on theology, and a slew of other titles.

The Grand Game: A Celebration of Sherlockian Scholarship Volumes 1 & 2 – Leslie Klinger & Laurie King
Two different books, but I'm lumping them together because they are quite foundational texts.  Editors Klinger and King have collected some of the most influential writings in Sherlockiana over the decades in these two volumes.  I think these two books alone might be the best Sherlockian titles I've read all year.


I also read some interesting graphic novels this year:

Sherlock Holmes: Year One – Scott Beatty
This title creates a new chronology that falls between "A Study in Scarlet" and "Young Sherlock Holmes."  Holmes and Watson meet and a new origin story is created showing the beginnings of Holmes' skills.  Dynamite puts out some really good titles in their Sherlock Holmes series, but I wouldn't say this was one of their best.

The Liverpool Demon – Leah Moore
This title is also from Dynamite and I enjoyed it much more.  Holmes and Watson find themselves investigating a series of gruesome murders that the locals are saying are being done by a monster named Spring Heeled Jack.  "No ghosts need apply," could have been Holmes' motto for this case.  There are some nice canonical nods in this tale and plenty of good original material.

A Study in Emerald – Neil Gaiman
Have you ever read Neil Gaiman's classic short story?  This is that story told in graphic novel format.  If you haven't, I would recommend hitting up the original version first.  I really liked this version and would say that my enjoyment of it was enhanced from already being familiar with the story.


And I found some great books out there that merge Sherlockiana and theology, which is always an interesting crossover for me:

The Wisdom of Sherlock Holmes: His Musings on God, Human Nature and Justice – Chase Thompson
This isn't just a theology text, more of a collection of essays.  Each chapter uses canonical information to back up Thompson's argument on each topic: atheist or believer in God?, compassion vs. sexism, are humans inherently evil?, and more.  A quick and thoughtful book that I really recommend.

God and Sherlock Holmes – Wayne Wall
An older title, but worth picking up for anyone interested in the cross-section between religion and Sherlock Holmes.  I didn't necessarily agree with every argument in this book, but they were well worth checking out.


And then there were the wide swath of other Sherlockian books that I tore through this year:

A Study in Scarlet Women – Sherry Thomas
I mentioned earlier in the year that I never completed this book.  I was hoping for a retelling of "A Study in Scarlet" but with Holmes as a woman.  It was more of an original tale with the Sherlock Holmes name slapped onto it.  Another person told me that the Sherlockian connection became evident at the end of the book, but I never made it that far.

A Sherlock Holmes Commentary – David Martin Dakin
I can't believe it took me this long to finally pick up Dakin's book!  It was high on the Shaw 100, and I can see why.  Delving into curiosities, continuities, chronologies, and other things that don't start with the letter C, it should definitely be a part of every Sherlockian's book collection.

Cracking the Code of the Canon: How Sherlock Holmes Made His Decisions – Diane Gilbert Madsen
Here is an interesting take on canonical information.  This book is a nice collection of different essays.  Madsen uses statistical information to look at Sherlock Holmes and his methods in this quick an engaging read.

The Life and Times of Sherlock Holmes – Liese Sherwood Fabre
I picked up this book at Holmes, Doyle and Friends in March and quickly tore through it.  Mrs. Fabre gave an interesting talk at the symposium and her book followed suit.  It's more of a look at the Victorian world in which Holmes lived in and gives the reader plenty of background knowledge of what life would've been like.

Practical Handbook of Sherlockian Heraldry – Julian Wolff
I am not someone who's typically interested in genealogy, so I was never going to be the right audience for this book.  But it's on the Shaw 100, so I worked my way through it.  If you are interested in family crests and background of canonical characters, this is a book for you.

Some of My Favorite Sherlockian Things – E.A. Livingston
A delightful collection of essays by a Sherlockian I hadn't heard of until I was browsing the MX Publishing website one day.  Although, I'd never heard of Livingston before this book, I was immediately captivated with his thoughts on the Canon and his delivery.

Sherlock Holmes, Conan Doyle & The Bookman – Susan Dahlinger & Leslie Klinger
As someone interested in the early commentary on Sherlockiana, this book was right up my alley.  Dahlinger and Klinger have collected all of the mentions of Holmes in The Bookman literary magazine over its forty year run in this great omnibus of early Sherlockian writing.

Island of the Mad – Laurie King
I actually just finished this book today.  With any series that has run as long as this one has (15 stories!), individual books can tend to not live up to the rest of the series.  That is not the case with King's latest Holmes and Russell adventure.  I tore through this in one day and really enjoyed our heroes adventures in Venice.  

I will finish up my list next week (I read a lot this year).  Compliments of the season to everyone!

Sunday, December 16, 2018

A Long Series of Such Titles

It's the middle of December, and most sites have packed it in for the year and are posting Top 10 lists.  Well, ladies and gentlemen, you can forget about that here.  Because as a voracious reader and ardent Sherlockian, I have too many books to come up with a Top 10 list.

I posted earlier about my failure to read a canonical story every week this year.  At the time of that post, I had read 23 stories, not too shabby if I do say so myself.  I'm ending the year with 29 stories under my belt.  Now that I think about it, I'll probably squeeze one more in just so I can say I read half the Canon in 2018.

But my year was more than just the Canon.  Journals, scholarship, pastiche, memoirs, essays, you name it.  If it was text related to Sherlock Holmes, count me interested.

By my count, I read over 50 other books and publications this year.  So I'm not going to do an in-depth analysis of all of the Sherlockian things I read in 2018, but some really great writings passed through my hands this year and I would at least like to get their names out to you over the next few weeks.  Hopefully something new will be on this list.  Enjoy!

The Baker Street Journal: Volume 3, Nos. 1, 2 & 3 (1948), Volume 22, No. 2 (1972), Volume 67, No. 4 (2017), Christmas Annual 2017, Volume 68, Nos. 1, 2 & 3 (2018)
First and foremost: if you are a Sherlockian and you don't subscribe to the BSJ.  WHAT?  I was lucky enough to get quite a few old issues of the BSJ this year and figure if I read one issue a month, I will have years of great writing ahead of me.  The BSJ puts out four standard issues a year, along with one Christmas annual that devotes the entire issue to one topic.  I don't think it's an exaggeration to say that without the BSJ, Sherlockiana would not exist today.

The Watsonian: Volume 5 No. 1 (2017), Volums 6 Nos. 1 & 2
Although it's only been around for five years, the Watsonian is a cornerstone publication for a Sherlockian library.  Each article has a different vibe than the one that came before it.  (Disclaimer: I've been published in here a few times, but trust me, there's good stuff in there, too!)  I joined this year and am kicking myself for not doing so earlier.  At least I don't have as many back issues to catch up on with this journal!

The Sherlock Holmes Society Journal: Winter 2017 & Summer 2018
Did you know that Sherlock Holmes mania isn't exclusive to America?  Sometimes we Yanks have so much Sherlockiana over here, it's easy to forget that we are really the step-children in this fandom.  The Sherlock Holmes Society Journal is a fantastic way to stay abreast of what is happening on the other side of the pond.  Whether it's publishing news, visits to Portsmouth or updates on names that sound just a bit fancier than our own, this publication will keep you in the know if you're interested in what's going on in the mother land.

The Serpentine Muse Volume 34 Number 4 
I could've sworn that I'd read more than one issue this year, so I have to go back and check my shelf.  I know a few members of The Adventuresses of Sherlock Holmes, and their journal reflects the members that I'm lucky enough to know: intelligent, witty, and classy.  If you want to feel like you're part of a group of high class folk, this journal is for you.

The Holmes & Watson Report: January & March 2000
Did you know that Brad Keefauver used to put out a journal?  Well actually, he put out a million different publications.  Imagine if Sherlock Peoria were in print format and Brad had convinced a handful of other like-minded folk to join in this endeavor.  Although this journal is no longer in print, it's worth checking out just for the reports written by Holmes' bearskin rug! 


The Sherlock Holmes Reference Library: The Valley of Fear & The Return of Sherlock Holmes – Leslie Klinger
For those of us interested in even MORE annotations than what can be found in Baring-Gould's and Klinger's Annotated editions comes The Sherlock Holmes Reference Library.  My collection grows steadily by a few volumes each year.  And they are an unrivaled resource at scion meetings when discussing particular stories.

Sherlockian Shtick – Art Schroeder
And no for something completely different!  Art Schroeder was a longtime Sherlockian in the St. Louis area before my time.  Blessed with wit, but not artistic ability, he was quick to turn a Sherlockian phrase into a humorous stick-figure drawing.  This locally produced work collects many of his Sherlockian stick figure puns.  A quick read, and one that's fun no matter what page you're on.

Sherlock and the Ladies – Brad Keefauver
Yup, Keefauver's on the list again.  Not only did he put out journals before the internet, but he also wrote a few books!  This one takes you through Holmes' relationships and interactions with the women of the Canon.  A clever look on a subject that is too often scandalized by other writers.

One Fixed Point in a Changing Age: A New Generation on Sherlock Holmes – Krstina Manente
Have you heard of this BBC show called Sherlock?  Turns out, it brought a whole new wave of Sherlockians to the fold and with them came a fresh new look at our hobby.  From shipping and Tumblr to re-evaluating some long-held beliefs about the Canon, it was a seismic shift in Sherlockiana.  If you are even remotely interested in how a new generation of Sherlockian looks at this hobby, this is the book for you.

Trenches: The War Service of Sherlock Holmes – Robert Katz
Every year, the Baker Street Irregulars Press puts out a few books focusing on a specific topic.  One of their releases this year focused on the manuscript of "His Last Bow" and the role that World War I played on Sherlock Holmes and his world.  A reproduction of the manuscript for "His Last Bow" is included, but these books are so much more.  It includes everything from an investigation on Tokay and a look at how Rathbone and Bruce influenced the war effort.  These books routinely sell out, so if you haven't picked up your copy, now is the time!

The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter – Theodora Goss
Not every book on this list is going to be a good fit for me.  This is one.  "The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter" has an interesting plot, Dr. Jekyll's daughter is looking into her father's past with the help of Sherlock Holmes, but I've never been a fan of alternating narrators.  This book is told in a conversational style between the main characters and is sure to be a favorite of many people out there, but my hang ups with narration kept me from really enjoying it.

The Illustrious Clients’ Fourth Casebook – Steven Doyle
The Illustrious Clients of Indianapolis are a powerhouse scion society.  And when one of your members is the guy who prints the Baker Street Journal, it's no surprise that they put out some good quality books as well.  This is the fourth collection of writings by members of their society, and they don't show any sign of slowing down yet.

Mycroft and Sherlock – Kareem Abdul Jabbar
I'm going to wrap this week's list up with a recent addition, "Mycroft and Sherlock" released less than two months ago.  If you liked Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's "Mycroft Holmes," you'll like this one as well.  If you didn't for whatever reason, give the second installment a try.  This is one of the few instances where the sequel surpasses the first.  The titular characters are beginning to embody their canonical selves in this book, and it was a lot of fun to read.  Definitely time well spent.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

On Our First Meeting

Imagine getting to read the Canon again for the first time.  You've never heard the name "Moriarty."  You have yet to learn about the dog that did nothing in the night-time.  You are unfamiliar with what constitutes a three pipe problem. 

Would you erase all of your Sherlockian knowledge to relive the first thrill of “Mr. Holmes, they were the footprints of a gigantic hound!”?


No matter your answer, none of us will ever get to relive those first trips into the world of Holmes and Watson.  But I get the next best thing.  Each year, I get to introduce 24 students to some of the most iconic characters in all of literature.  Granted, not every story hits with each kid, and some kids don't care at all.  But the majority of them are into a good story, no matter how old it is. 

And I get to be their tour guide.  We read abridged versions of "The Red-Headed League," "The Blue Carbuncle," "The Speckled Band," and "A Scandal in Bohemia" as well as a graphic novel version of "The Copper Beeches."

So, I'm going to be lazy in this week's blog post.  I'm not going to blather on about whatever Sherlockian topic has been occupying my mind (trust me, there's always plenty).  But instead, I'm going to turn the blog over to comments made by my students about each of these classic stories.  Seeing them through a child's eyes are almost as good as reliving it for yourself!

REDH

I could predict that the Red-Headed League was a sham.

The person who got caught ha d really good idea to rob the bank!

It was cool that Duncan Ross and Vincent Spaulding almost escaped.

A weird job leads to a famous criminal.

The villains should have kept the league open while they rob a bank.  Then no one would have
suspected a thing.

I like that Holmes notices all of the details throughout the story


BLUE

I didn’t like that John Horner got blamed for the crime.

It has pretty good clues that all match up.

Just a simple hat and a goose led to a stolen gem.

There’s a gem inside a goose.  Who on earth does that?

James Ryder wasn’t that smart.

There were so many different obstacles in the story that Sherlock had to deal with to catch the villain.


SPEC

I like how smart the villain is

This is the best because you don’t know what’s going to happen next.

I like how they used the murder weapon.

I like how scary it was.

It was cool when the snake killed Grimseby Roylott.

Julia’s last word was, “Speckled Band.”  She should have said, “Bye” or “I love you” instead.

I like the villain’s role in this story and how selfish he is.

The surprise at the end was great when I found out what killed Julia Stoner.


COPP

It was confusing until Holmes explained it at the end

A dog bit the guy’s face!

I didn’t like that the girl had to cut her hair.

The mystery felt unfinished.

This story is really weird.

I was really sad for the daughter that had been locked up.


SCAN

I like it because Irene Adler outsmarts Sherlock.

The ending was unexpected.  I was not expecting Irene to leave!

I liked Irene Adler’s note.

This is my favorite because the great Sherlock Holmes lost to a woman.

Irene and Norton get to live happily ever after!

This story tricked me into thinking something else.